I was recently talking to someone about my middle school years. “I was so chubby!” I exclaimed. I described that even though I regularly practiced tae kwon do and achieved a black belt, I was still fat and unattractive. He was very doubtful and asked that the next time we saw each other, I bring pictures of myself from this time. Believe it or not, I have very few pictures of myself from my middle and high school years. I didn’t like my appearance and therefore have kept few pictures of myself from those years.
I did manage to find a few pictures of myself from that time, including my album from my bat mitzvah. A whole bunch of pictures from me during my most awkward age. I was shocked to see that I really wasn’t all that chubby, I just had more of a woman’s figure than an adolescent girl’s at the time.
My entire life, I spent so much time focusing on the ugly aspects of my body. Wherever I went, I compared my body to other women’s, wondering why God had given me a fat, big, and misshapen body. It was this disgust with myself that brought myself to lose weight and shape up.
Seeing the pictures of myself from when I was 13 made me realize that the way I saw myself was so different than anyone else ever saw me. I wasn’t ugly and I wasn’t fat. I was voluptuous and developed earlier than most girls my age. But those years conditioned me. I had so thoroughly convinced myself that I was fat that I really started to believe it. My own beauty was invisible to me. The image I saw in the mirror wasn’t the one I was seeing deep inside.
I know that I still struggle with some body image dysmorphia, although it is getting better. At the risk of sounding conceited, I can look at myself in the mirror today and like what I see. I like everything that I see. I am able to see how fit and toned I am and have learned to appreciate my curves. There are still moments when I revert back to the girl who only saw and thought ugly and fat. There are still times when I find myself envying the body of another woman. But I’ve come a long way and know that there’s no going back.